New York Knicks v Boston Celtics

Bucks may be the team that makes a big offer to J.R. Smith

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There have been a few teams reportedly interested in pursuing the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in J.R. Smith, but any offer to pry him away from the Knicks would have to come at a fairly high price.

New York can only offer Smith a four-year deal in the neighborhood of $25 million under their current cap situation, and with players like J.J. Redick and Kevin Martin already receiving more than that with their new teams, Smith figures to be in line for a bigger payday if he chooses to go out and get it.

The team that may step up first to offer that is the Milwaukee Bucks.

From Marc Berman of the New York Post:

The Bucks, who have gutted their team and have plenty of cap space, are shaping up as the leading suitor for J.R. Smith.

But if Smith leaves the Knicks to get more bucks in Milwaukee, he will find himself in a rebuilding program. That’s the decision the Freehold, N.J., native, has to make.

Take less to stay with the hometown Knicks, who can offer a four-year, roughly $25 million contract — which comes to $6.25 million a season after yearly raises — or follow the “green’’ jerseys of Milwaukee or another under-the-cap club willing to make a four-year commitment. The market value is being set for him to get an offer of at least $7 million per year.

Smith has enjoyed playing in New York, perhaps even a bit too much at times. Milwaukee isn’t close in terms of the activities it can provide outside of basketball, so it’s likely that the Bucks would have to overpay significantly to get Smith to consider leaving a good team in a great city for whatever Milwaukee’s franchise has to offer.

A deal starting at what Monta Ellis turned down to stay with the Bucks — $36 million over three years — just might do the trick.

Report: Lakers working toward buyout with Jose Calderon; Warriors, Rockets interested

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 18:  Jose Calderon #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a called foul during the second half of a game against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on November 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The Lakers took on the salary of Jose Calderon this year so they could get a couple second-round picks from the Bulls (Chicago got him from New York in the Derrick Rose trade), but even with the previous regime in Los Angeles the aging point guard was never part of the future.

As was expected, the Lakers are now talking about buying out the Spanish national and letting him head to a playoff team for a stretch run, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN that it’s not yet a certainty Calderon will secure his release from the Lakers in the coming days, but the sides are indeed discussing the options as Wednesday’s playoff eligibility deadline nears….

Sources say that Calderon, if he winds up hitting the open market, would instantly become a target for both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.

Cleveland may also have interest if their plan to land Deron Williams when he is bought out by Dallas goes awry.

Calderon, 35, was not part of the Lakers’ regular rotation, playing in just 24 games. He can still knock down a shot if he has space and can set his feet, and he still has a high hoops IQ and can see the floor, but his athleticism has faded, and that can leave him exposed. Particularly on defense.

Players are being waived now so they clear in time for teams to sign them by March 1, after that said players are not eligible for playoff rosters.

There are better players to hit the waiver wire in the coming days — D-Will, Andrew Bogut, Matt Barnes — but Calderon is going to land somewhere. He’d be a solid third point guard and veteran presence for a playoff run.

Marquese Chriss blocks Bobby Portis, who gets testy (video)

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Bobby Portis didn’t enjoy getting blocked by Marquese Chriss. And Portis sure didn’t appreciate how Chriss fell on him.

But it was all worth it (for me, at least) just to see the Bulls forward make a face that reminded me of this:

Dwyane Wade with dagger dunk to seal Bulls win vs. Suns (VIDEO)

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The time off during the All-Star break did Dwyane Wade some good.

The Bulls guard turned back the clock on Friday night, leading the Bulls with 23 points and topping it off with this dunk that proved to be the dagger, sealing a Chicago win. The Suns were convinced Wade was going to run the shot clock way down before making his move and they lollygagged into position — so he just blew past everyone for the poster slam.

The Bulls won 128-121. Devin Booker led the Suns with 27.

DeMarre Carroll shoves Isaiah Thomas to ground on break, tempers flare

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Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll picked up a deserved flagrant for this foul.

With a couple of minutes left to go in the second quarter, Isaiah Thomas made the steal when DeMar DeRozan lost the ball on a drive, and Thomas was off to the races. Trying to prevent a lay-up, Carroll decided to foul Thomas far from the basket, but did so with a forearm shove that sent Thomas sprawling on the ground.

Thomas got up and had words, as did Jae Crowder.

Carroll got a flagrant and a technical, Thomas and Crowder each picked up technicals for jumping in.